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September 23, 2013

Opponent Overview (Week 4)

Temple (0-3): Bye

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: @ Idaho

Since falling to Notre Dame, Temple has added a 22-13 loss to Houston and a 30-29 heart-breaking defeat to Fordham. Fordham scored the winning touchdown with four seconds left.

With both those losses coming at home, the Owls may be the one group of travelers who look forward to a trip to Idaho.

Michigan (4-0): W 24-21 over Connecticut

AP ranking: 18, fell from a 15 ranking a week ago
Next week: vs. Minnesota

The Wolverines have struggled since topping Notre Dame by 11, beating Akron and Connecticut by a combined seven points. Michigan needed 17 unanswered points to squeeze by Connecticut and can largely thank running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who provided two second-half touchdowns, as well as 120 yards rushing. Quarterback Devin Gardner struggled, throwing for only 111 yards and no touchdowns on 25 attempts, compared to the 294 yards and four touchdowns he notched against the Irish on 33 attempts.

Purdue (1-3): L 41-10 to No. 24 Wisconsin

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: vs. Northern Illinois

After pulling within 14-10 in the second quarter, Purdue’s defense collapsed against Wisconsin, giving up 27 unanswered points and a total of 388 yards rushing. Let’s repeat that, 388 yards rushing. Notre Dame totaled 91 rushing yards against the Boilermakers just a week ago.

Michigan State (3-1): L 17-13 to No. 22 Notre Dame

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: @ Iowa

Much was made about the Michigan State defense’s No. 1 ranking coming into South Bend. Cynics credited the Spartans schedule with the lofty ranking. After taking on Notre Dame, the Michigan State defense remains atop the total defense rankings, giving up an average of 188.8 yards per game. Florida comes in at No. 2, giving up more than 23 additional yards per game.

Oklahoma (3-0): Bye

AP ranking: Remained constant at No. 14
Next week: @ Notre Dame

Oklahoma has topped Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa this season, all in the safe confines of Norman, Okla. Considering the 37-0 beatdown West Virginia just endured at the hands of Maryland, Oklahoma’s schedule to date looks as weak as Michigan State’s did a week ago, so it is hard to discern much reliable information from the Sooners’ statistics.

Arizona State (2-1): L 42-28 to No. 5 Stanford

AP ranking: Fell from No. 23 to the land of others receiving votes, placing one spot outside the top 25.
Next week: vs. USC

The Arizona State passing attack -- averaging 361.3 yards per game -- has already topped then-No. 20 Wisconsin, and though the score may not indicate it, gave Stanford all it could handle. Trailing the Cardinal 39-7 entering the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils scored three touchdowns before Stanford recovered a crucial onside kick.

Quarterback Taylor Kelly has already thrown for eight touchdowns, while running back Marion Grace has rushed for six more.

USC (3-1): W 17-14 over Utah State

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: @ Arizona State

Whereas Arizona State’s passing attack nearly carried the Sun Devils to victory last week, the Trojans’ passing attack hardly threatened Utah State. USC averages a paltry 163.5 yards through the air per game, outdone by a rushing attack that averages 176.5 yards per game. Even heralded receiver Marquise Lee has totaled only 293 yards and one touchdown this season.

USC’s three wins have come thanks to the strength of a strong defense, only allowing 11 points per game.

Air Force (1-3): L 56-23 to Wyoming

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: @ Nevada

After opening the season with a victory over Colgate, Air Force has fallen to Utah State, Boise State and Wyoming, never giving up less than 42 points. As is a Falcons tradition, the Air Force passing attack is abysmal, while the rushing attack gains 276.3 yards per game.

Before hosting Notre Dame, Air Force also travels to Navy and hosts San Diego State. Depending on that latter tilt, the Academy could very well be 1-6 come Oct. 26.

Navy (2-0): Bye

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: @ Western Kentucky

In its only two games, Navy has topped Indiana in a 41-35 shootout and dominated Delaware to the tune of 51-7. The Midshipmen lead the county with 398 rushing yards per game, paced by quarterback Keenan Reynolds’s 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Reynolds has also thrown for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns, meaning defenses have to at least consider defending the pass against Navy this year.

Pittsburgh (2-1): W 58-55 over Duke

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: vs. Virginia

That score is not a typo, and the two schools did not square off on the hardwood. Pittsburgh and Duke indeed totaled 113 points on Saturday. The offensive shootout came after the Panthers tallied 49 points against New Mexico, a welcome change after being held to 13 in their season-opener against No. 11 Florida State.

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage has thrown for 861 yards and nine touchdowns, partly due to the high-scoring nature of the Panthers’ games thus far.

BYU (1-2): L 20-13 to Utah

AP ranking: N/A
Next week: vs. Middle Tennessee

After rushing for an absurd 550 yards in a 40-21 victory over then-No. 15 Texas, BYU managed 183 yards on the ground and 260 through the air against Utah. The ground attack may not be quite as dominant as it appeared against the Longhorns.

Stanford (3-0): W 42-28 over No. 23 Arizona State

AP ranking: Remained steady at No. 5
Next week: @ Washington State

Looking like another balanced Stanford team, the Cardinal controlled time of possession against Arizona State, holding the ball for 35:26 as they took a 29-0 lead before the Sun Devils’ frantic comeback.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan has already thrown seven touchdown passes and running back Tyler Gaffney has five more on the ground.

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